My Poetry Corner September 2022 features the poem “After” (Depois) by Brazilian poet, journalist, and chronicler Martha Medeiros, born in 1961 in Porto Alegre, capital of Brazil’s southern State of Rio Grande do Sul. With more than thirty books published, many of which have been adapted for theater, TV, and the cinema, she has become one of the most read and respected writers in Brazil.
In the 1980s, after graduating in Social Communication from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Medeiros started out as a copywriter and content creator in advertising and marketing. Her debut poetry collection Strip-Tease, published in 1985, received great success. Over the next sixteen years, ending in 2001, she published five more books of poetry. Her favored themes were love, lovelessness, and relationships.
In the poem “The measuring tape of love,” she concludes: It’s not height, weight, or muscles that make a person great. / It’s their immeasurable sensitivity.
The extensive list in the poem “What is the purpose of a relationship?” includes:
A relationship has to serve you in feeling 100% comfortable with the other person… To teach one to trust, to respect the differences that exist between people… A relationship has to serve for one to forgive the weaknesses of the other…
During her thirties, Medeiros’ professional life took an unexpected turn in 1993 when she accompanied her husband to Santiago, Chile, for his nine-month work project. Leaving behind her advertising career, she dedicated her time to writing poetry and began experimenting with chronicles about everyday life in Santiago.
On her return to Brazil, Medeiros took advantage of an opportunity to begin publishing her chronicles in the newspaper Zero Hora in Porto Alegre. In 1995, she published her first collection of chronicles together with her fourth collection of poetry. Three successive publications of her chronicles led to a literary prize and adaptation for the theater. An invitation in 2004 to begin writing a column for the O Globo newspaper, based in Rio de Janeiro, increased her visibility and popularity across Brazil. Her poetic sensibility captured the hearts of readers.
When asked about her decision to write about everyday life, during her 2018 interview with Eder Fonseca for Panorama Mercantil newspaper, Medeiros said, “When one is not an expert in anything (neither fashion, nor gastronomy, nor sport, nor politics, nor economics), you end up adopting life itself as raw material, your reactions to everyday events. That’s what happened to me.”
The featured long poem “After” speaks to those of us who, in everyday life, wait for the perfect or ideal situation to find happiness.
We convince ourselves that life will be better after... after finishing our studies, after getting a job, after we get married, after we have a child, after we have another child.
Then comes the frustrations because our children are not yet / grown up enough… // Afterward, we despair because they are teenagers, unbearable. So, we look to earning more in our job or profession to obtain the things that would make us happy.
When we have a better car... When we can go on a vacation... When we get a promotion... When we retire...
In postponing to enjoy life for after, we miss the opportunities to be happy NOW. Happiness is a journey, not a destination, the poet declares.
Work like you do not need money... Love like you have never been hurt and dance like no one is watching!
To read the complete featured poem “After” in English and its original Portuguese, and to learn more about Martha Medeiros and her work, go to my Poetry Corner September 2022.
NOTE: Excerpts of poems by Martha Medeiros translated by Rosaliene Bacchus.